Omaha has different names
There are many different names for the same game.
Pot Limit Omaha = PLO
Pot Limit Omaha Hi = PLO Hi
There are variations of the game, and if not specified, it means Pot Limit Omaha Hi, the original and most common game. If you play online, take care not to accidentally enter a tournament of a variant such as PLO Hi-Lo or PLO8.
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Easy game to learn and play
With 4 cards per player, the game looks complicated, but looks can be deceiving. Omaha is really quite simple to learn and super fun to play. Personally I find it even more engaging than no-limit holdem. Like your favourite board game, monopoly, you can play Omaha without much study, and still play quite well and even win. Of course, study and practice will make you a better player. A great place to start is a free online version for play money. As a beginner, see who wins each hand and work out why they won.
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The differences between Omaha and No-Limit Holdem
4 hole cards instead of 2 hole cards
You will be dealt 4 cards and you need to peek at them all and keep them on the table. Practice this and ask another player how to hold and look at your cards comfortably.
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Pot limit maximum bet size
Generally Omaha is played as a pot limit game. Once you learn how pot limit games work, you’ll have access to play all the other pot limit games too. What does pot limit mean? It means there is a limit to how much you can bet. That limit is based on the amount to call and the current size of the pot. The current pot includes money in the middle and bets already placed in that betting round. Let’s do 2 examples:
An Omaha hand preflop, and no-one has bet yet.
Small blind: 50
Big blind: 100
Pot is now: 150
Your turn to act:
Of course, you can just call 100 if you want, or fold. But you could raise. Betting the maximum allowed is called potting or to “pot”.
Maximum bet (to pot) = call + (raise by total in the pot including your call)
= 100 + (150+100)
After you raise, the pot will contain 150+350 = 500
You can see that potting more than doubles the size of the pot.
Now, you might find that mathematics difficult at the table. Just ask the dealer “How much is pot?” which actually means “What is my maximum allowable bet?” and the dealer will calculate it for you and tell you the amount.
Convention is to say “pot” as declaration of your action. Many players are confused by this wording. You don’t actually bet the size of the pot; rather, you effectively call first then raise by the size of the pot, which now includes your calling chips.
What about the person after you? Again, he can fold, call, or raise. However, his maximum allowable bet would be:
Maximum bet (to pot) = call + (raise by total in the pot including his call)
= 350 + (500+350)
In the examples above, there was nothing in the middle. In later rounds of betting, when a player pots, the amount in the middle is also included in the pot amount.
After you watch players pot a few times it will make sense. Betting the maximum (or potting) is very common in Omaha because other players will often have flush or straight draws and you want them to pay to see a turn or river card.
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Must use exactly 2 hole cards
In Omaha, you hold 4 cards, so you have many more chances of making strong hands like flushes, straights or sets. But, you must use exactly 2 of your cards to make the hand, which is different from holdem. Most players new to Omaha will play using holdem rules where you can use 0, 1 or 2 of your hold cards until they make mistakes and gain experience.
|Your hole cards||Board||Makes||Explanation|
|AK27||45568||AK558||No straight because only 1 hole card would be used.
You have a pair of 5s, with AK kickers.
|AK67||45568||45678||You have a straight, because exactly 2 hole cards are used (the 6 on the board is disregarded)|
|AK67||222KQ||222AK||No full house.
You have trips with AK kickers
|33KQ||222KQ||22233||You have a full house.Your paired K is not used.|
|Jh9dAdKd||AhKh6h5h7d||AAKK7||No flush because you do not hold two hearts.
You have two pair with 7 kicker. Your kicker is not J because that would use 3 of your cards.
|22K5||KKKAA||KKKK5||You have quads with 5 kicker. Yes, you have used 2 hole cards, K5.|
Variations of Omaha
There are many variations of the game of Omaha, including No-limit Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo and 5-card Omaha, but you should be familiar with Pot Limit Omaha Hi as described above before taking on the variants.
Also Omaha makes for exciting cash games as well as tournaments.
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I hope you give Omaha a try! I promise you, you’ll find it exciting and rewarding.